Online retailers changing prices many times each day

It used to be just hotels and airlines that changed prices constantly.  Now, it seems many online retailers have begun to do the same.

For example, on online retailer was found fluctuation the price of an iPad throughout the day. At midnight the iPad was $511. At 6 a.m. it was $503.  By 7 a.m. the price sunk to $475, where it remained until 2:30 p.m. and then jumped to $510.  At 10 p.m. the iPad increased to a high of $529.   That's a total of a $54 price difference, on the same site, all in one 24-hour period.

The price fluctuation is happening on much less expensive items as well. The price of colored pencils ranged from a high of $3.32 to $2.22 over a 24-hour period.  Duct tape: in one day the price ranged from a high of $7.83 to a low of $2.00.

Some retailers hire software companies, such as Mercent, to monitor the prices of its products and make changes based on its competitors. Often the goal is to have a product priced so it pops up as the lowest priced item in shopping search engines, or Amazon's coveted "buy box".

Electronics, appliances, clothing, shoes and jewelry are among the items most commonly subject to such price changes.

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